Welcome to December, everyone!
For many of us December is a month of paradoxes — delight and stress, celebration and exhaustion, peace and chaos, wonder and worry, love and loneliness. The holiday season, for those of you who participate, can lift us up or bring us down — or maybe a bit of both! Today I am going to share with you my top five tips for thriving during the holidays:
1) Be authentic. Check in with yourself and your body often. Ask yourself, “Do I really feel like eating/watching/wearing/buying/doing this?” If the answer is “no,” honor that. If the answer is “yes,” party on. If your mind and heart are making it difficult for you to make decisions about how YOU want to spend your holiday time, ask your body for help. Find a moment to sit quietly and breathe. Find where your center resides in your very own being. Connect with that center and then ask your questions again. Your body will respond with resonance or repulsion. Another way to imagine it is that you feel an opening in your body or a recoiling or a closing up. Notice what you feel and honor it.
2) Dance and sing. Even if they’re not holiday songs. My friend Jessica just described having a family Les Miserables-style sing-a-long through dinner and during after-dinner clean up to help with a stressful day. I love that! Find ways to let go, let loose, feel free, and be light. Be silly. I am known to put on my holiday disco (!) album and shimmy in my living room this time of year. Moving your body releases built-up adrenalin and singing opens that all-important throat chakra.
3) Make it simple. Now if going whole hog and decorating like crazy is the thing that lights your fire during the holidays, I say go for it! If it’s not, and you’d like to participate in the season in some way, give yourself permission to make it simple. In my household, simplicity is the WAY, so we go for a minimalist approach. A small string of lights on the mantle, a few paper snowflakes, some candles — and voila!, we have a little winter wonderland on our fireplace mantle. This simple design makes me happy each time I walk by, and knowing I spent next to nothing on making some wintry beauty makes me delighted, too.
4) Mind your “musts.” Every time you start a sentence with “I have to…” take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself. Ask yourself if your sense of obligation is genuine or if it’s a “must” that is butting in out of guilt or fear. Are you committing yourself to things that don’t resonate with you? Even if doing something is a duty, when we truly want to do it we more often say things like “I am going to” or “I get to” or “I want to.” Certainly, we all have obligations and responsibilities, but when it comes to the holidays in particular, notice when “have to” and “must” enter your sentences.
5) Take care of yourself. What can you do for yourself that will balance out the high energy of the season with some respite and relaxation? Take walks? Go to a spa? Get a massage? Do yoga? Meditate? Listen to music? Pet your cat or dog? Be creative? Get out of town? Read? If you are feeling stress, scan your top list of feel good activities and choose one, two, or ten. This life is yours and your health and well being are of supreme importance.